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BYU softball: O'Connor's walk-off hit lifts Cougars to 5-4 win

Sophomore Mercedes O'Connor smashed a walk-off single to give BYU the 5-4 win over Hawai`i on Thursday evening in day one of the Wilson/DeMarini Desert Classic at UNLV.

“It was the tale of two games,” BYU head coach Gordon Eakin said. “Innings one through four were not good. In innings five, six and seven we played good ball.”

Leading the Cougars (3-3) from the plate was sophomore McKenzie St. Clair who went 2-for-3 including a triple and one run scored. Sophomore Sydney Broderick finished the night with three walks and a run scored, while Gordy Bravo, Lacey Hofstedt and O’Connor each had 1-for-3 nights at the plate. Bravo and Ashley Thompson had an RBI each in addition to the walk-off by O'Connor.

From the circle Arianna Paulson threw 3.2 innings against the Rainbow Wahine (3-3), striking out four, walking three and allowing three hits. Bull pitched the rest of the way to pick up the win, improving to 3-1 while striking out seven, walking four and allowing three hits as well.

“We need to be more consistent and not start out so slow, giving free passes to their hitters and making errors that get their rallies going,” Eakin said. “I’m proud of them for hanging with it, battling through the tough times, finishing out the game strong and beating a quality team in Hawai'i.”

Facing a 3-1 deficit in the bottom of the sixth, the Cougars put two runners on base with back-to-back walks drawn by Broderick and O’Connor. After the second out of the frame, St. Clair singled, but a throwing error from the third baseman allowed both baserunners to come home while St. Clair advanced to third, effectively tying the game at three apiece heading into the final inning.

Hawai'i countered in the top of the frame to take a one-run lead, 4-3. With runners on first and second, a one-out single to left-center allowed the Rainbow Wahine to take the lead before striking out looking and swinging to Bull.

BYU rallied for the win in the bottom of the seventh, facing a 4-3 deficit. Hofstedt first singled on a bunt before Bravo reached on a fielder’s choice bunt. Sophomore Lauren Bell advanced the runners with a sacrifice bunt prior to Thompson coming to the plate.

With one out and runners on second and third, Thompson hit a fly ball to center field, driving in Hofstedt for the tying run. Bravo advanced to third and Thompson advanced to second on the play as the outfielder dropped the fly ball.

O’Connor then singled up the middle, driving in Bravo for the decisive run.

BYU is back in action Friday against Northwestern at 11:15 a.m. PST, and UNLV at 3:45 p.m. PST. Live stats will be available on the BYU softball schedule page.

McKay Perry is the sports information director for BYU softball and an assistant sports information director for BYU football. Contact him at softball_sid@byu.edu